Barging Through France

A lesson in relaxation — by David Greitzer

Saying you’ve barged through the canals of France is like saying you’ve reached the end of the internet. In a word — impossible.  However, it is possible to experience some of what seems a infinite task. It’s kind of like eating an elephant; just take one bite at a time. With the right attitude, company and minimal pre-planning, navigating a canal like the Canal du Nivernais in North Central France is a great first way to ease into the experience.
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There are reputable companies that rent self-piloted barges for several different routes along what seems like an endless series of waterways. The main concerns before selecting this as your vacation experience are: choosing a boat rental company; boat’s sleeping capacity; region/route of travel and availability; rental price; length of stay; hidden fees such as fuel, food, bicycles.

Self-drive penichette companies have nearly every contingency planned for when it comes to renting a canal barge for a pleasant one- to two-week vacation. With minimal research to find the best match, you’ll find an answer to most of your questions.  See main concerns above. Locaboat, Crown Blue Line, Rive de France, Nicols all offer self-drive barges or penichettes through several canals and routes throughout France.

Posing inside the Caves Bailly Lapierre. These caves dug deep in the limestone are shared by 71 regional winegrowers and provide the natural coolness with which to store and age wine . Tours and tastings are available daily.

Temporarily securing the penichette’s lines while the lock fills is very easy.